Future Word Processor
My last blog was about the future of grammar and spell checkers. Now, I would like to predict the future of word processors. All computers aim to save time, and word processors are no exception. A good example is auto-formatting. One typical timesaving feature is when we begin a sentence with “1)”. The modern word processor knows we are typing a list, and the following paragraph automatically indents and starts with a “2)”. What a time saver.
My first prediction is that this area will expand and more critically become interactive. In the above example, a dialog box might allow more control over how the numbers appear and interact with the text.
Another area of improvement will be auto-word completing. Today, we see this technology in text messaging applications. For example, when we type “tow” it might complete the word with “toward.” I have not seen this feature in word processors, but I suspect it will be available soon.
My big prediction comes with linked documents. Today, many writers can simultaneously work on a single document. However, they cannot collaborate with multiple documents. I predict the writer will copy (link) “active” text from a (different) document into theirs. When the text in the original document is changed, the second document gets automatically altered. The result will be a (second) document that is automatically updated (made current) without the writer’s involvement. The advantage is that one writer can instantly change many documents. This will be a great help in the corporate environment. For example, they could keep the legal disclaimer at the beginning of a document current. Yet, this feature could easily mess up many documents with a single mouse click.
The next advancement will allow the writer to copy “active” text from the internet. A consistently changing stock price would be a great example. This is now possible (by experts) by inserting programming scripts into a document. I envision a word processor that ordinary people can copy “active” text with a few mouse clicks.
A similar advancement will be to copy/paste active text, data, or pictures from another program such as Visio, Excel, or PowerPoint. It would be nice to have Excel graphs automatically updated.
In the distant future, I predict we will be able to apply active rules to our documents. For example. If the stock price is below 50, “we are experiencing some difficulties.” If the stock price exceeds 50, “we are experiencing significant progress.” Like the above example, active rules are possible with scripts, but this process requires experts.
What is a bridge too far? I depend on outlines to create my books, and it would be nice to expand this tool. How about a function that converts a story into a (summary) outline? Or a tool that shows (overlays) the outline of the story? How about a tool that summarizes a document? Hmm. Not going to happen soon.
What about incorporating a random name, story, or fact generator into a word processor? This task would be simple, but non-authors would not find it helpful.
Last, we should cover failed word processing technology. Computer dictation (voice recognition) showed great promise but has not replaced the keyboard except for cell phone texting. I feel that most word-processing users find it more annoying than helpful.
I have made some intuitive suggestions, and it will be interesting to see what the word-processing future holds for my four regular blog readers.

You’re the best -Bill
January 25, 2023
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